Thursday, December 29, 2011

As previously mentioned, I came up with a brilliant idea the other night. Nessa was showing me the websites of her friends who have developed very sophisticated and successful workout techniques. Some of the videos showed 100 people in a class all punching and kicking before moving on to working with swords. Swords. Seriously. I'm all for a practical self-defense workout that adds to fitness, but who walks around with a sword?

I've had ideas for self-defense classes before, namely, "Kick Ya In The Face" which is just an hour of kicking your leg in the air as high as you can while shouting, "I'llllll kick ya in the face!" But Nessa said her friend's sword classes are so successful that she's flown around the world to teach.

This got me thinking. Obviously, the air of danger is appealing to these sword workout people. And I know from years of experience that walking around carrying heavy things is not only good cardio, but your arms end up looking pretty cut too. (Carrying groceries, laundry, or a 12pk of beer was always my excuse for not working out.) So naturally, my thought was to combine the two: Walk around carrying something heavy (a watermelon) and have the threat of an attack at any time. I call it Watermelon Killer.
Get familiar with the name, because it's going to be as ubiquitous as Pilates.

Here's how it works: You sign up for Watermelon Killer and are given a fresh watermelon each week. You never meet your trainer but one is assigned to follow you and chase you from time to time wearing a ski mask, a Scream mask, or clown costume. A lot of people say they would only run if chased and the Watermelon Killer training technique puts that to the test. Even if you go weeks without being confronted, you're still carrying a watermelon everywhere you go. It's win win.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The New Fitness Craze.

I wouldn't describe myself as fit. When I cancelled my gym membership in Boston last year the representative asked me why I wanted to discontinue and I said, "Because I've never actually been there. I don't even know the address. If you asked me right now where you're located, I honestly couldn't tell you."

Also, I'm a little (cough) clumsy. Whenever I do ab workouts my ears tend to hurt for a few days. I once punched myself in the face doing the fast circular Tae-Bo arm move too close to my head. And I literally just learned that it's called Zumba and not Zubaz. I have to say, I was pretty disappointed to find out that my favorite childhood pants hadn't made a miraculous comeback.

But with all that said, I LOVE to high-five, I love to laugh, and I love social situations where my sweating isn't a problem. Luckily, my little sister's new business provides a venue for all of that.
Her company, SIN Workouts, (Strength in Numbers) stresses that fitness should be the most positive part of your day. Seriously people, I'm not just saying this because I'm her sister. As someone who does NOT enjoy working out, I'm totally inspired. Taking a spinning class with her is like going to a crazy fun party where everyone is wicked hot and dances on stationary bikes. (Note: Don't dance on the bike. You're clipped in and will fall off while still remaining attached to the bike. That happened to my friend once...)

Vanessa is very fit. It's her lifestyle, it's her day job, and now, her business. She's involved with so many diverse training techniques and has narrowed down the best workouts, classes, and instructors in NYC. Serving as a Better Body Concierge, she hooks people up with tailor-made fitness schedules that are, above all things, insanely fun.

If you live in NYC and want to get together with Ness or a group of SIN clients for a workout to see what I'm talking about, shoot her a line: or follow SIN Workouts on Twitter.
Nessa cracks me up and her tweets are pretty hilarious.!/SINWorkouts

I've been brainstorming ideas for her on my own and last night came up with what I think will be the next HUGE thing in fitness. I won't share it now, because this post is about Nessa and SIN, and I don't want to steal their thunder. But for real. My concept is like the best idea I've ever had in my entire life. Stay tuned...

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Best Thing Ever.

My Christmas wish is that everyone in the world gets to have someone in their life like Mrs. Koutras. She taught me and my sisters in pre-school and has been an incredible part of our family ever since. She's hilarious, energetic, positive, loving, and the most supportive person I know. We all feel so lucky to have her in our corner. When I had my book launch in Brockport, she spent an entire day decorating the farm market. Who does that?!

She's my mom's bestie and the two of them get into more ridiculous situations than anyone I know. My mother actually giggles when retelling their stories.

Anyway, she's totally loved. And here's one reason why:

This morning, Mrs. K showed up to my parents' house with a coffee and corn muffin for each of them and asked them to follow her out to her car. With the driver's side door open, she blasted the stereo and played the song she had cued up, "You've Got A Friend." Standing there, stunned for a moment, my parents started to laugh before the three of them linked arms, started swaying, and sang together at the top of their lungs. "Winter, spring, summer, or faaaaalll..." In the the 6:45 in the morning.

My mom described it as the best Christmas gift she's ever received.

Mrs. Koutras is a freaking legend. Love her to death.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Holiday Link.

This is old, but seasonal.

I think an update is in order. I didn't think it was possible, but my moves have actually improved since this was originally posted. While out dancing last week someone asked me, "What are you doing?"
If that's not an indicator that I'm breaking the dance mold, I don't know what is.

Perhaps a new holiday video coming soon, or a dance tutorial. We'll see.

Monday, December 19, 2011

War Horse.

During a recent visit, I was able to attend Meredith's holiday work party for the second year in a row. I was much less nervous this year, but everyone knows that the heartbeat of a holiday party is small talk, and small talk has never been my forte. If someone taught a class called, "Small Plates, Small Talk: How to appear engaged and interesting while eating passed hors d'oeuvres" I'd take it twice.

I feel like I've learned enough about the mental health field to make a few solid "processing" jokes, but after that I'm pretty lost. While Meredith was deep in conversation with a man wearing a beret (I knew I had nothing to add to that discussion), I started chatting with someone I didn't know by commenting on the pistachios in the cannolis. It played like really early Seinfeld to a person who clearly never enjoyed Seinfeld.

Later, when Mer came over to ask if we had met I said in all seriousness, "Yes, we talked about her cannolis."

It was my own personal, "I carried a watermelon" moment.

But I think this was my finest exchange of the night:

Meredith: Jess, Alex is a vet.
Me: Oh, wow! That's amazing. Thank you so much for your service.
Alex: Um... you're welcome.
(awkward silence)
Meredith: Jess, she's a veterinarian.
Me: Right. Well, thank you for your service to puppies.

If I had any sense at all, I would have let it lie there. Instead, I nodded thoughtfully and said, "So, cats in the military. Tell me more."

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Steve Martin Original.

This was the voicemail my father left for my little sister on her birthday. He sang all of it.

Happy Birthday to you,
We wish you were here too,
But you're not so we're going... to eat all your cake your absence...
Mmmm that cake is good, here have some of this slice, no it's OK, she's not coming.

He never forgets a birthday so if you'd like to receive a Steve Martin Original voicemail on your special day, I can arrange that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Check It!

Open-Eyed Sneeze makes its first list!
Woo, and might I add, hoo!
See it here, in all its list glory

Thanks to Sean at Chamber Four for the shout-outs and support!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Couch Tour: Chicago!

Katie and Allison were kind enough to host the first ever Open-Eyed Sneeze Living Room Couch Tour Book Event last night.
(The title of the tour is a work in progress.)

If unfamiliar, the basic idea is that I'm trying to spread the word about the book on a completely grassroots level-- small parties in different living rooms throughout America. I'm asking friends to invite a few buddies over for an evening of talking about the book, laughing, and hearing ideas or feedback for future work. The first leg of the tour last night could not have been any better and I have Katie and Allison to thank!

Katie has become something of a t-shirt wizard, so she made a shirt for the tour, which will now be traveling with me. I will say this again, but nothing shows support quite like a handmade t-shirt.

The snacks were incredible and in an animal theme to honor the recent book reading at the zoo. Animal crackers, pigs in a blanket, ants on a log. Classics! When's the last time you had ants on a log?!

They also made funfetti cupcakes!:

After the party, mostly 'e' cupcakes were left. Just interesting to note.

Being a couch tour, I thought that I should read to everyone on the couch.
It turns out that was a little too close for comfort.

Katie set me up on a different chair and had a water pitcher and a mug ready because she said, "People always drink water out of mugs on talk shows."
Good point.

Then I had Adam read a passage because he has the most incredible voice. And the most incredible socks.

It was super fun and I'm excited to see how these events start to take shape as I have more. Thanks to everyone who came out for the very first one and can't wait to see new and old buddies in different living rooms soon!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Jane Lynch Gets It!

Went to a book signing event for Jane Lynch's new book Happy Accidents and I gave her a copy of my book. I figured, why not? I debated handing it to her and saying, "That's $16." but I didn't. I debated telling her that I saw her on the campus of Smith College over the summer, but I refrained. I debated stealing one of the grapes that the bookstore had put out for her to nosh on but I was a little nervous and just rambled through everything I had calmly practiced saying this morning in the bathroom mirror.

It was cool to see her aaaaand, she got the concept of the title, which was nice!

Here's my awkward encounter. Why why why can I never keep my cool?
"I'm gonna put this on my blog."

Captive Audience.

To practice for upcoming Living Room events, I decided to see if certain parts of the book faired better than others when read aloud. I didn't want to bore my friends with this, so I decided to read excerpts to animals at the zoo. It made sense in my head.

Here's how it went:
The Pygmy Hippo LOVED it. Note, after I was done, a little girl came up to the hippo and held a zoo brochure against the glass. I guess she figured he wanted something else to read on his own.

The Flamingos really didn't care. I could have had a better audience with lawn flamingos.

This Gorilla was awesome and totally came down from his tree to walk over to me. I love an active listener. Another gorilla turned his back on me and ate his poop. It was good to figure out what sort of response I want to have to that.

The Cheetah scared the hell out of me. Let's be honest. I think I read him the dedication page and left.

I put the Lions to sleep.

This guy couldn't be bothered.

My largest audience to date.

The Polar Bear swam over but then that man behind me boxed me out. Ru'.

But hands down, this little guy was the best audience at the whole zoo. He sat up, was attentive, and really enjoyed Geoff Gavett's cover art. I could be making this up, but I'm pretty sure he clapped.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Scaredy Cat.

For context:
History of Wild Animal Sightings

I'm afraid of cats. Terrified is probably a more appropriate description, but people tend to roll their eyes when I say that. My fear is not without reason. For the last few years I've been followed by cats in an extremely strange way.
Walking around my neighborhood at night? Cats. Gangs of cats. Ninja cats everywhere! Popping out of corners, trailing me.
Taking the garbage out? Cats.
In a quaint little grocery store? Cats.
Meredith and I were in a small grocery store last fall and she calmly said, "Don't freak out." When I turned around, there was a huge cat right behind me, so of course I freaked out. What the hell was a cat doing in a grocery store?!

My roommate has 2 cats and I've really grown to love them but I still don't fully understand cat behavior and I don't think I ever will. One of the cats finally sat on my lap after weeks and as I was petting her, she slowly turned her head, rolled over, and bit my leg. I looked at her and said, "Hey, you came to me!" They are super cute though. Although I'm still a scaredy when it comes to random jumps onto the back of my chair, or having a tail rub against my neck.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

If The Shoe Fits.

I packed lightly for my move to Chicago-- as I am wont to do-- but I realized today that my favorite pair of Cons had a huge hole in them so it was time for something new. In DSW, trying on pairs of guy's shoes-- as I am wont to do-- I saw the cutest little kid run over to his mom holding up a tiny flat shoe. She looked at the shoe, and then to him, and said, "I will slap the hell out of you if you bring me another girl's shoe."

My heart broke in two.

Slipping a men's shoe off my foot, I felt my face grow red and looked to the amazing little kid with as much support as I could. I felt embarrassed by my silence.

I was a huge tomboy growing up. I cut my hair as short as I could, I wore denim tuxedos when I went to work with my dad on the weekends, whenever I played pretend I dressed in a suit and was a character named Jim, and on the daily I wore whatever I wanted on my feet. Saddle shoes were preferred but when the Reebok Pumps came out, there was no stopping me. My Pumps went with everything. And my mother happily obliged. Throughout all of the tragic fluorescent expressions of myself, my mother let me do what I needed to do. All of her acceptance and support came rushing at me while I replayed in my head what I had just heard.

I think what struck me most about the horrible interaction I saw at the shoe store was that mother's fear. She had a healthy, beautiful, engaged little boy. What was she so afraid of? That her son preferred a practical flat?

The shoes you wear can say a lot about you. True. But beyond the fashion, the style, the function, the completely ridiculous size test where a salesman presses on your toe, all anyone really wants is to feel is comfortable and supported.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Change The Date!

Hold up, Chicago. This Sunday the 9th will be the first ever leg of the Living Room Couch Tour. If you're interested, holler!

This works out better because I'm going to see Jane Lynch speak about her new book on Sunday afternoon, so when I have her sign a copy, I'll politely insist that she come to my event. In my friend's living room. It's like they always say: Fair is fair. And it's like I always say: Come on Jane Lynch, just come over to my friend's house and sit on her couch while I try to think of things to say for an hour.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Scooch Over: Book Tour On Your Couch.

The Open-Eyed Sneeze Living Room Book Tour is officially a go. (Michael, I heard from Tara that you thought this was a joke. It's not. It's real life.)

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can read more here. But the basic idea is to have small events in living rooms across America to spread the word about the book and my blog/upcoming work. My friends are incredible and the support has been amazing so far. If you're in one of the following cities and interested in coming to an event, or hosting one, please do! They are sure to be hilarious, and exciting, and inspiring. (Legal Note: Ms. Martin does not guarantee that living room events will in fact be any of those things. She is, however, bringing beer.)

Here are some cities on tap:
-Boston, MA
-Washington, DC
-Boulder/Denver, CO
-New York, NY
-Greensboro, NC
-San Francisco, CA
-Rochester, NY
-Philadelphia, PA
And on Saturday, the tour will officially kick off in my friend Katie's living room in Chicago!

This is an entirely grassroots effort made possible by the support of my buddies, their amazing buddies, and you. Even if it's an epic failure, it's going to be a lot of fun. And I'll be documenting everything here so you can follow along on the weird ride.

I'm totally stoked for Saturday and currently brainstorming about how the evening should go. Any thoughts? If you came to something like this, what would you hope to see?

Stay tuned for a feature about the first event! Yay, Chicago! Yay, living rooms!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Never Had One Lesson!

Saturday marked the 25th Anniversary of one of the best films ever made, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. (I have a very special place in my heart for John Hughes movies.)

To celebrate the anniversary and the city it was filmed in, Wrigley Field held an event setting up huge screens on the field, selling lawn seats and bleacher seats, and showing the film. It was freaking awesome. We were sitting in left field so when the scene came on where Ferris and his friends are in Wrigley in left field, a spotlight hit our section and everyone cheered. Watching filmed Wrigley in Wrigley, and hearing movie cheers and actual cheers all from the section we were sitting in and seeing on giant screens, was probably the most meta experience I've ever had.

Waiting to get into the stadium before everything started, Katie looked at a man standing next to us and said in a warm, nice-to-see you tone, "Woo Woo!"
I give her a hard time for knowing every person in Chicago so I thought to myself, How does she know a 70-year-old man named Woo-Woo wearing a Cubs uniform?
Turns out he's at all the games.
We were invited to his birthday party.
But I digress.

Just before the movie was about to start, two announcers came out to the field and said a representative from The Guinness Book of World Records was present and that everyone was going to be a part of trying to break a World Record. I was so excited! I recently saw that someone just broke the record for longest fingernails and it blew my mind that people are still trying to do this. Sure, you beat a record, but you couldn't use your hand for 9 years!
When the fingernail record holder hears, "It's $12.01, do you have a penny?" she probably just looks down to her 3-foot claw and then to her pocket, and sadly shakes her head.
But I digress.

I thought we were just going for the most people to ever watch Ferris together record.
I was so wrong.
It turns out we were trying to beat the record for the most people to sing in a round.

Of course, while explaining this, the announcers used the example of row row row your boat-- because never once, in the history of the world, has someone described singing in a round without using row row row your boat as the example.
The practice session was rough, to say the least. But in a twist, right before we went for the record, they told us we would be singing Danke Schoen.

This is how it went.

Hearing Danke Schoen in a round was absolute torture. I'm shocked we didn't break the record for mass suicide. It just. wouldn't. end.

When that giant mess was over, movie critics came out to talk about their thoughts on the film, and people started booing them. It was getting chilly and everyone was ready.

The movie is such a classic and the jokes still make me laugh out loud. It was a really fun night.
One for the record books.

And now I can cut my fingernails.

Makes You Wanna Shout.

Met up with Laureen to catch the Bills game at a Buffalo bar in Lincoln Square yesterday. I love team bars in different cities because it's a kind of Bizarro world once you enter those doors. Yes, we're in Chicago--but the entire place smelled like wings and I'm sure if I yelled, "Shopper's Club Card!" the whole place would have started to cheer.

It was fun to look around the bar and try to guess from where in Western New York people hailed. Laureen was killing this. As soon as I walked in she said, "It's great. You got a Cortland sweatshirt at that table, that guy over there has a House of Guitars t-shirt on, and check out Flutie Flakes right here."

The people-watching continued through the fourth quarter when she said in all sincerity, "Doesn't that girl look like she has Greece Athena hair?"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grab Bag II.

A mix of things. If you need more, you can go here.

-I received a Groupon notice today for 61% off a psychic reading. Would anyone redeeming this really be all that impressed by any of the psychic's findings? "She knew I like value and savings! How did she know that?!"

-Speaking of value and savings, has anyone seen Extreme Couponing on TLC? I'm disturbed by how many people on that show stockpile diapers even though they don't have children.

-The $5 donation for a chance to win dinner with President Obama has been reduced to a $3 minimum donation. The fine print of this fundraising tactic points out that the dinner has been changed to a six inch sub from the original Footlong.

-I'm offended when people in front of me at the grocery store checkout put one of those separator things on the conveyer belt. I feel like they're implying something when they do that. Either that I'm an idiot and won't be able to tell when my single half gallon of almond milk has disappeared, or that I'm trying to cheat them in some way. I almost always have to stop myself from saying, "Hi, I'm not trying to steal from you. Or have you buy my groceries. How could I possibly benefit from you taking the things I need home with you?"

-As I ate my third donut of the morning today, I started reading an article about cooking oils you should always avoid, but then decided against it.

-The fact that pretty much NO ONE in the mainstream media is covering the Occupy Wall Street protest is insane. If there were thousands and thousands of cats gathered together in lower Manhattan, every news outlet in the world would be there. It would be the last minute spotlight of every evening news broadcast in the nation.
"And finally tonight, look at all these cats! Man, cats are weird. Good night, everyone."
Has America lost its taste for revolution? If YouTube and viral videos existed in Colonial times, would we even be a nation today? Or would John Locke have been too busy with the kitten on a treadmill link to think of anything original. If the media won't cover a group of people crying out for social, political, and economic change, we owe it to ourselves to take notice and support them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good Point, Andy Rooney.

Andy Rooney will be leaving 60 Minutes after 300 million years on the air. He'll be missed... by someone... maybe.

Perhaps it's a generational thing, but I never considered any of his observations to be clever, or thoughtful, or enjoyable. I think I saw a segment once where he went off on pencils. Thanks for that important piece on why you hate everything, Andy!

Andy Rooney is like a rock star for the old people who always send their soup back at restaurants. These types of people don't need a rock star, because they most likely hate their rock star. Regardless of age, people who love to complain only love that-- to complain. The fact that Andy Rooney was elevated to some sort of cultural icon just by ranting about things that annoyed him doesn't make any sense. Where Seinfeld was able to make "It's funny because it's true" observations, Andy Rooney always just made me mad. After all of his 60 Minute segments I would end up yelling at the TV, "We get, Andy! You hate everything!"

Gah! I've been Rooneyed! I'm ranting about Andy Rooney. Not cool, I'm sorry.
But I suppose a 300 million year career is to be celebrated. Congrats, Mr. Rooney.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


As an unknown author and unknown person, really, it's hard to create and maintain buzz about the book Open-Eyed Sneeze through this blog alone. Social media is obviously a tool, but facebook changes everyday and my twitter account seems to be followed mostly by porn spam and restaurants. Not exactly my target audience.

So what's a girl to do?

Ideally, I'd like Open-Eyed Sneeze to be the go-to gift for graduates. How many of you received Oh, The Places You'll Go! for graduation? I'm guessing a lot. I have three copies of that book. But if people are going to know about Open-Eyed Sneeze by May, I have to get the word out on my end. In an effort to do this, I'm starting something new and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you could be a part of it.

Here's what's up:
I'm starting what I like to think of as the Tupperware Party of the indie-publishing world. I'm calling it, "The Open-Eyed Sneeze National Living Room Book Tour."

Here's how it works:
You're a friend of mine, or get in touch with me, and you invite some buddies over. I show up with books, a case of domestic beer, and stories. The evening can be set up in anyway you like.
-If you're inviting your book club/writing pals, we can talk about the book, or the publishing process, or writing, or anything.
-If you're inviting friends and just want to drink the beer I bring, we can chill.
-I can perform what's known to no one as sit-down comedy, which is basically just me talking on your sofa, trying to come up with a routine as I go. (I've done this for my grandma and she lurves it. It hasn't been tested anywhere else.)
-These can be like mini-launches, a way for me to meet new people around the country, spread the word, and write along the way-- A new blog will document the tour.

What do you think? Is there any interest in this at all? I'll be putting up a list of possible tour cities and if you live in one and think you might want to get in on the fun, let me know. All living room tour groups will have their own featured post on the blog, and, um, the beer.

I realize the goals of this are a little vague right now. But that hasn't stopped the thousands of people currently camped out on Wall Street. Sometimes, it's just nice to get together!

Feedback greatly appreciated.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What, What, What Is Happening?

I saw an advertisement for Sauna Pants. Sauna Pants.
I am without speech.

Please add these to the original list found here.

Big Buck Hunter World Championship!

You read the title of this post correctly. Big Buck Hunter, the bar game that you know and love, has a WORLD Championship. When I heard that the Championship is held in Chicago every year I thought, hmm, that's neat. But when I found out that Jesse P had qualified and was competing for the ladies title, my head nearly exploded.

I should note that I have a long history and supreme respect for World Championship titles. Growing up my mom would influence us to do pretty much anything by telling us we were competing for the World Championship. Although she also persuaded my little sister to bathe by dropping Double Dare references and asking her if she accepted the "Physical Challenge." The Physical Challenge was just using shampoo. But I digress.
Anytime my mother tired of playing Connect Four with me or my sisters, she would say in a very slow, very serious tone, "OK. This last game is for the World Championship Title. Champion of the World. One last game."
These were big moments in my childhood.

So knowing that Jesse was competing for an actual title, in pretty much the most awesome event ever, made the Big Buck Hunter Championship a must-see. I can honestly say, it didn't disappoint.

Before heading over to the Cubby Bear where the event was held, Katie and I made t-shirts to show our support. Technology has improved almost every facet of our lives, but nothing says "We're here for you!" better than a handmade t-shirt.
Mine was an epic fail. Obviously.

Jesse got us in as VIPs which was hilarious and awesome so we drank and ate for free, and took way too many free BBH beer koozies and wrist sweatbands, which Katie ripped off after five minutes, exclaiming, "It's too hot in these!" Ah, yes. If only Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic had had a few wrist sweatbands to stay warm.

The atmosphere in the bar was incredible. People dressed in random shit, photographers, videographers, people being interviewed, just an amazing vibe leading up to the start of the competition. I was literally making myself sick with excitement (and free quesadillas) and couldn't stop smiling.

Jesse's friend Mary was also competing so we knew TWO possible champions! When I asked them why they didn't dress in camo, they replied that they wanted to stand out. Great line. They were both calm and collected while I freaked out as their player profiles came across all the tv screens in the bar.

Mary actually took out the top-ranked girl in the 1st round and it was such a huge upset that she got cheers and up-top high fives from everyone in the bar. It was insane!

Jesse dominated round after round and ended up placing 4th! In the world. It.... was awesome.

It was such a blast and Mary and Jesse were both stars. Congrats you guys!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blank Stare: Park Bench Edition.

Two separate stories here from two different park benches.

The first comes from an old man sitting on a park bench smoking as I jogged by:
Old man: Run faster!
Me: [Blank stare.]

The second involves me sitting on a park bench reading and a man with a bag of peanuts and seeds coming up to stand right next to me before throwing handfuls of nuts around my feet.
Me: [Blank stare.]
Man: [Blank stare. Throwing stuff.]
Every pigeon and squirrel in the park: Oooh, free shit by that girl's feet! Let's ride!
Man: [Walks away, leaving me surrounded and trapped by park critters.]
Me: [Blank stare.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Really, Footloose Remake? Really?

Note: For full dramatic effect please listen to this song while you read.

Just saw a trailer for the new Footloose movie.
"Footloose 2: My Foot's Still Loose?" you ask.
No, kind reader. Not Footloose 2. Just regular old Footloose. Actually, the same exact Footloose you saw in the 80's only with a new cast and dancing scenes pulled from Stomp The Yard instead of Grease.

Other than that, everything is the same. Everything.
Storyline? The same.
Dancing away frustrations in an abandoned building? The same.
Old VW bug? The same.
This one freaking killed me! When I saw that the character in the remake was driving the same old yellow bug that Kevin Bacon's character drove, I couldn't effing believe it. I suppose it's better than the bad-ass renegade outsider driving a more current VW Bug, putting flowers in his little cup before tearing up the town one pop-lock-and-drop move at a time. But still. They couldn't change one thing in the remake?! Seriously? The freaking bug had to stay?!

It's slightly upsetting that an entire generation of youngsters is going to think this is the Footloose that we're talking about when we talk about Footloose. It's not. And if the makers of this film were willing to use the same VW bug but don't include "Let's Hear It For The Boy" during the learning to dance montage, I will get up and walk straight out of the theatre. Because let's be honest, I'm obviously going to see this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How To Succeed At A Craft Fair Without Really Trying.

I normally don't get into crafts at all. After I met Amy Sedaris and dropped $30 on her craft book for poor people I realized the irony. I hate crafts and $30 was way too much to spend on a book that reminded me of that, particularly because I was totally poor.

As previously mentioned, I hit up a craft fair last weekend with two buddies from my hometown. There were artists peddling all sorts of handmade clothes, jewelry, posters, and cards. You have to be a very judicious shopper at craft sales. Surrounded by crafts and craft enthusiasts, anything knitted seems completely necessary. It's like when you're on a beach vacation and think getting your hair braided is a good idea.

Obviously, there were a lot of birds on things.

But Suzanne also noted how many words were on things. "So many words!"
If you planned your outfit accordingly, you could have a message on everything you were wearing and holding.

If you want to succeed at a craft fair just put one of these things on something:
-A bike on something
-A whale on something
-An animal wearing a suit on something.
-A Mustache/beard on something. (Seriously, people? Still not over this?)
-An eyepatch on something
-A Chicago flag on something
-A random food item like a Pop Tart on something

I say, be bold! Put a single sideburn on something! A pogo-stick! Buffalo's city flag! (It's pretty sweet, look it up.) Or do whatever you want, I guess I don't really care. Just stop making totes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Your Clever Names Aren't Fooling Anyone.

Dear Nail Polish,

Who do you think you are? $8.50 for half an ounce?! Do you realize a gallon of paint costs $35 but a gallon of nail polish would cost $2,176? Do you think you're better than paint?! You are paint, motherfucker. Nail paint! You probably show up to your paint family reunions and speak in a slightly different accent than the last time you all met up, correcting everyone any chance you get.
-Jack! How the hell are you?
-It's Jacques, actually. You don't know Jacques.

Do you know you're pretty much the most unreliable paint there is? You smudge, chip, run-- if actual paint did that we would have to paint our rooms like 73 times a year. And you're the reason toe-separators exist! The fact that I just had to type out "toe-separators" and people will know what I'm talking about is ridiculous! Aren't you embarrassed?! Have you no shame, Nail Polish? Have you no shame at all?

Fries Are Ready!

When I was in high school, bowling was a gym unit. It was a coveted gym unit. And why wouldn't it be? Because what would you rather do? Change into nasty gym clothes to run, orrr keep your normal clothes on, take the bus over to Brockport Bowl, and hang out with your friends for 80 minutes?

Brockport Bowl was a local business that had clearly worked out some sort of deal with the school to convince educators that an increased heart rate could be achieved with 10 frames of alternating turns to toss a ball. Plus, the bowling alley was only about a mile from our school and we easily could have walked over there but we always took a bus. It was like the entire unit was challenging us to move as little as possible. AND they opened their snack bar during gym class hours. So the first thing everyone did after getting their shoes was place an order for mozzarella sticks. Hearing, "Fries are ready!" over the speakers at Brockport Bowl is so engrained in my mind that I can't look at anything related to bowling without saying it.

I took a lot of bowling units.
When I first started, the idea was that we would learn how to keep score. But with the introduction of electronic scoring, all there was left to do was laugh, eat fries, and try to get a strike bowling lefty with a 6-pound ball.
I have NO idea how bowling continued to be a part of our physical education.

Anyway, I bring this up only to highlight the mysteries that surround bowling alleys and their ways of operating. A few months ago we stopped at a bowling and found their hours to be:
Wednesday: 8:30-11:30 AM
Thursday: 12:30-4:00 PM
Saturday 6:00-9:00 PM.
Nothing says rise and shine quite like an 8:30AM bowl.
And is it 1:00 o'clock on a Thursday? Grab your 9-pounder! Let's hit the lanes.

Also, I found a bowling alley in Chicago the other day on the second floor of a building. Who's genius idea was that? The retail/restaurant space below it was totally vacant with a sign saying it was available for lease. Go figure. I'm semi-tempted to open up a place called "Fries Are Ready" but I think that would be too large of an investment just to tip my hat at an old high school gym joke that only I would appreciate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FOR-EV-ER Stamps.

Newman: Oh, calm down everyone. No one's cancelling any mail.
Kramer: Oh, yes I am.
Newman: What about your bills?
Kramer: The bank can pay 'em.
Newman: The bank. What about your cards and letters?
Kramer: E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams, holograms.
Newman: All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half of what goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you.

Recent news that the US Postal Service is struggling with $9 Billion worth of debt can't really come as a surprise to anyone who has ever waited in line at the Post Office. In the time that it took me to buy a book of stamps (27 minutes) I was able to figure out what seems to be escaping the higher-ups at the USPS: Postal Employees are no dummies. These workers understand that the mail NEVER stops. If they were to move at a rate that kept up with demand, they'd have one really long-ass difficult workday, everyday. They know that no matter how slowly they move, people will still come. It's actually a brilliant little system they've worked out for themselves. Except the whole part about the inefficiency bankrupting the entire Postal Service.

In the 27-minutes I waited to buy stamps, four customers were served. This was one exchange I overheard:
Customer: Hi, I was in here yesterday. Do you remember me?
Postal Employee: (Taking her time like examining a line-up) That box you're holding looks familiar. And so do you.
Customer: OK, because I wanted to send this to California, you see? To this address? But it arrived at my house today.
Postal Employee: (Slowly got out of her seat like she'd been dipped in wet cement. Picked up the box and examined all six sides of it. Took off her glasses, looked at stickers, put her glasses on, tapped her fingers on the box)
Me: [Blank Stare.]
Postal Employee: Sir, what's happened is that you wanted to send this box to this address here, but they've actually sent it to your return address. They sent this to you.
Me: [Deep Breath.]
Customer: Yes, that's exactly what happened.
Postal Employee: So would you still like it sent to California?
Customer: Please.

To his credit, he was very, very patient.
I think the only way to calmly wait at the Post Office is to assume that you're being filmed for some sort of John Quinones Primetime special.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shall We? 2.0

Back in 2008, I wrote a post about dance shows because I couldn't believe how many were on the air. Back then the list included:
Dancing With The Stars
America's Best Dance Crew
America's Best Dance Crew Season 2 (But shouldn't it actually be called America's Second Best Dance Crew?)
Step It Up And Dance
So You Think You Can Dance?
Your Mama Don't Dance
Dance War: Bruno vs. CarryAnn
The Deadliest Dance on the Discovery Channel
Ice Road Dancers
Law & Order: Flap Ball Change Unit
Iron Dance America
How I Met Your Dancer
My House is Worth Dance?
And Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance which is currently in pre-production
Since then, we can add to the list:
Dance Your Ass Off
Dance Your Face Off
Dance Your Ass Face Off
Who You Calling Ass Face?: Dance Off Challenge 3000
Dance Moms
Live To Dance
Born To Dance
Die Dancing
Paranormal Dance on A&E
Dancing With With The Sharks- Shark Week Special
Hoarders Dance Edition: Shoes, Leotards, and No Room To Dance.
Nathaniel from Yo Gabba Gabba now has his own reality series
and Ellen.

It really annoys me when people say there's nothing on TV. Clearly, they're not looking hard enough.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Lied.

So I know I said this article by Chamber Four was the book's first review, but that wasn't entirely accurate. I met up with some of Brockport's finest over the weekend to walk around a craft fair in beautiful Wicker Park and I was reminded that Suzanne actually gave me my first review...AND my first (and youngest) fan! Not only was this the nicest email I've ever received, it was also far and away the cutest.

Thanks again, Suzanne!


I hope I can say this without sounding like a big giant weirdo...

#1. Attached are pictures of my daughter..which as you can see, is your youngest, yet biggest fan :)

#2. So I taught for 8 years and couldn't get enough of taking classes about reading and writing. I went through the National Writing Project (not saying this for you to be all, "Wow Suzanne, you have really gone places after that Europe trip", but wanting you to know that I feel like I know what I am talking about when it comes to this stuff.

One of my favorite authors is Ralph Fletcher. I love his writing and his writing about writing. He tells kids, "Writers don't live extraordinary lives, they just look at life in an extraordinary way" He always talks about the way writers notice the world around them...THAT is what makes them a writer. Those words have helped me create lots and lots of little writers in this world...

Long story long, you ARE this quote. I am only 3 chapters in to open eyed sneeze, and am so impressed by the way you notice and express your "noticings". Amazing. Extraordinary. absolutely love it!!!!

#3. I am thrilled for you and hope that this is just the beginning of a very successful writing career!!! apologies if I sounded like a weirdo, but big-ups, Martin!!!

Open-Eyed Sneeze- It's hilarious!

It's surprising!

It's thought provoking.

Friday, September 02, 2011

It's Not A Great Story.

I haven't gone shopping in a long time but lately I've noticed that the new big thing with salespeople is to ask you why you need the clothes for which you're shopping. All of a sudden you have to have some sort of story to go along with your need to buy a shirt. I encountered this a lot when shopping for book events. I'm terrible with small talk and have trouble believing that perfect strangers care why I'm doing anything, so I always hated these conversations.

Salesperson: What are you shopping for today?
Me: Clothes.
Salesperson: Have a special event coming up?
Me: Well, yeah actually. I published my first book and I'm having a party.
Salesperson: Well belts are 30% off. Let me know if you need a different size.
I have no idea why they engage you in conversation only to redirect whatever you say to accessories.
Also, I sincerely dislike shopping. Trying on clothes is bad enough but walking in malls past the five million different smells makes me sick. Bath and Body Works, Abercrombie smell, Cinnabon (totally acceptable), Yankee Candle, perfume counters. If you were to lead a blindfolded dog through a mall they would eventually learn how to talk and say, "I have no fucking clue where we are." And now, on top of everything else, I have to explain my reasoning for being in a store.
Salesperson: What are you looking for today?
Me: My daughter. I lost her six years ago and I think she might be in the dressing room. Excuse me.

Anyway, this was an exchange I had with a store employee today:
Salesperson: Hi, there! Can I help you find anything today?
Me: I don't think so, but thank you.
Salesperson: Well are you looking for anything in particular?
Me: Pants.
Salesperson. OK, great. Why do you need pants?
Me: To go out in public, mostly.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blank Stare: Airport Edition.

This was the recent exchange I had with a TSA official at airport security:

TSA: Sir, do you have anything in your pockets?
Me: (Pause.)
TSA: Oh, I'm sorry Ma'am. I was looking at your pants.

I was wearing jeggings.

Monday, August 08, 2011

There. Perfect.

Yesterday, as I sat on the bus in the pouring rain, I saw a woman walking down the street in a full length raincoat (where do you buy those outside of fishing supply stores?) and a shower cap. Normally, we'll see a rain bonnet. You really have to be a confident person to wear a rain bonnet in public. Ten times out of ten I'd rather have wet hair than walk around a city looking like this:

But the shower cap was a first for me.

Waiting on the bus at a crowded stop, I watched the woman walk on the other side of the street, adjusting her shower cap and then looking at her reflection in every storefront window as she passed. Sometimes she would stop and mess around with it a little. All the way up? No, adjust. To the side like a beret? Maybe. Which side? This one? This one? No, let's try it all the way up again.

I felt like getting off the bus, making my way over to her, grabbing her gently by the shoulders and reminding her in a calm tone, "Ma'am. It's a shower cap. Just keep walking."

Friday, August 05, 2011

Yes! And...

So, this is happening tonight in Rhode Island!

I'll be reading from the book and possibly joining a few sketches--yikes!-- so if you're in the area, you should obviously come check out Boom Scones!

I'm obviously nervous about this. I get nervous when I have to try a new bus route. All I really know about improv is the "yes and" rule that says you should always agree with what is said and then build on it. My biggest fear is that I'll freeze and just say no. Damn you, elementary school drug abuse resistance education!

I may or may not spend my morning reading the wikipedia page for improvisation. I'm not telling.

Monday, August 01, 2011

First Review!

Here's a link to the first ever book review for Open-Eyed Sneeze!

Reviews always make things feel more official. That's why I never buy a product on TV until I've listened to one of those personal testimonials about how the product changed someone's life. The reviews for pajama jeans pushed me to buy nine pairs.

REVIEW: Open-Eyed Sneeze

Author: Jess Martin


Filed Under: Memoir, Nonfiction,Short-run

Get a copy from Harvard Book Store

C4 Ratings...out of10

A self-published memoir by a twenty-something detailing that horrible, floaty time between college graduation and embarking on some sort of path into adulthood? You can’t get much lower on the list of books I’d expect to like. Despite that, when Jess Martin released her book through the Harvard Bookstore (where we run the paperback versions of our own literary ventures), I supported a local artist* and read it all the same. I’m really glad that I did. It is, by any measure, a very good read.

The plot, much like the point in her life Martin relates, appears pretty directionless at first. She writes about finishing college and returning home to her parents, where she intended to collect herself before stepping out into the real world. But she finds herself stymied and winds up napping on the couch and emailing the occasional resume.

As the book goes on, Open-Eyed Sneeze reveals a lot of gears turning: it’s at once wacky family drama, a coming of age from a second childhood, and a microcosmic metaphor, all speaking to a generation of talented young adults for whom college degrees are inflated and the job market is deflated.

It’s also funny. This is risky business, as there’s nothing more annoying than a book that continually tosses up taters for jokes and expects the reader to laugh as they continually fall flat. Luckily, Martin’s wit, while sometimes dry and acerbic, has a gentleness and graciousness that softens the edges. It works well:

It’s no longer enough to have a job, now it should be the job of my dreams.Which is what, exactly? I have no idea. I’m never working in my dreams. In my dreams I’m made of Fluff and can eat my own face. I’ll just take a regular job, thanks.

Humor alone can rarely carry a book, of course. Here it works as a reinforcement to a strong narratorial voice, one that somehow manages to be authorial in its timidity:

The difficulty in saying what I want lies in the fear of never having it, or fear of having it but not liking it. I bet that’s true for a lot of people…We’re a society obsessed with success and the first to ridicule those who find it. Thus, we try not to shout out what we really want so as to avoid anyone hearing it and holding us to it.

So she muses, and she plays, and she naps. She spends time with her grandmother who continually force-feeds her, and with her parents who think she still has a shot at being an astronaut. She’s back at home, afraid of being thought a failure. But for once she’s not doing what she’s supposed to do, and thus a sense of individuality seems to blossom. (Though given the idiosyncrasies she relates, I very much doubt uniqueness was ever a problem for Martin.)

Most importantly for a young memoirist, she’s quite insightful–see her tongue-in-cheek comparison of “Modern Artist vs. Realist”–and has an uncanny knack for drawing connections between her occasionally tangential musings and the bigger thought arc at work.

Trying to expound upon the arrested development, or failure to launch, or any other cliched term for the oft-delayed transition from child to adult, without coming across as whiny or, worse, arrogant, is no easy task. Always offered trophies and promised the world, many of us left college still sporting training wheels and expected to place in a bike race. But of course there is no on-switch for being an adult. For Jess Martin, like many others, all she could do was wander and wonder. As many have discovered, that’s an important step in the process. I’m glad Jess had the bright idea to document it.

Similar Reads: The Voting Booth After Dark (Garcia)

*[Disclaimer: I know Jess Martin. Our acquaintance is not of the variety where it would have an influence on my opinion of this book.]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bored Much?

Sometimes when I'm bored online I look at the recently added shows on Hulu and try to guess what they're about. It's like balderdash only different.

All the cake shows are an easy guess. There are SO many cake shows. I love cake, but seriously people? How many cake shows are you really interested in watching?
Oooh, what's the cake going to be? Oh, will it fall? Ooh, icing. Oooh, fondant people. Oooh, cake drama.
Note: I'm not hating. I've probably watched more cake shows than anyone. Being unemployed requires that you watch at least three hours of cake shows a week. Food network competitions count.

But I digress.

The point is, there are so many random shows on Hulu that most of the time my guess is nowhere close.

Take for example, this gem; a little show called Yam Roll.

I'm pretty tired and didn't put much effort into it, but I guessed it was a cartoon about the adventures of a dog named Yam Roll.
Man, was I off.

Here's the summary from Hulu:
Yam Roll is the story of an exotic land of sushi and how one of its inhabitants, a super-powered taxi driver named Yam Roll, braves monsters, bad guys and barking dogs all in the name of unrequited love.

Well done, writer of Yam Roll synopsis. Well done.


Just a friendly reminder that I'm trying to beat Justin Bieber in number of "likes" on my facebook page by tomorrow.

I'm off by about 34 million.

If you're able to click things-- and you are because you got this far-- will you kindly like my Author Page? There are contests (not really), games (made that up), and fun prizes (there are no prizes.)

Thanks a lot. I like you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mer!

Today is this girl's birthday!

Here's a Top 27 list for her. Top 26 lists are so yesterday.

Meredith, The Top 27 reasons why you're my favorite:

27) You're hilarious. You make me laugh until I cry.

26) You have the best little voices and create the most memorable characters with them. Your accents are also incredible.

25) You always know when a camera is out and can pose perfectly for a candid shot. I'll never ever know how to do that.

24) You're the most thoughtful person I know. You remember so many things about the people in your life and consistently make those closest to you feel special.

23) You are the Queen of the to-do list. It's inspiring to someone like me.

22) You inspire me.

21) The people who have your support have SO MUCH SUPPORT! You're the best cheerleader, believer, high-fiver, smiling face any person who is attempting to do something could ask for. You have complete confidence in the people you love and the proof of it comes in your matter of fact nods when I mention how amazing your friends are. "Yeah. I know. They're wonderful."

20) You're silly! Your funny walks/noises/faces, your insistence on making me blush in public, your childlike wonder for the world and the million other things you do that make me actually giggle, are some of the best things about you.
Mer Thought Bubble: Ok, I'm just going to take your phone from you...
And push you in the pool like so...
Too soon, perhaps?

19) You read children stories better than anyone I know. The way you recite the names from Make Way For Ducklings is AMAZING.

18) You scream in excitement when you see ducks. And hippos. And hedgehogs. And french bulldogs. And baby birds. And baby bunnies. And babies. You're turning 27 but really you're 6.

17) Your voice has so much soul. I love when you really get into a song and put your hands out and spread your fingers and close your eyes and just kill it. Even if it's to Celine. I still effing love it.

16) You swear a lot when driving and clearly learned to drive in Massachusetts, but have learned to let people cross at crosswalks and sometimes even let cars in! You're growing!

15) Best movie buddy a girl could have.

14) When I dance around you never make me feel like I can't dance. Which, obviously, I can't.

13) You love your fam and light up when you tell stories about them.

12) You buy cards for friends months in advance, take pictures of things that remind you of them, and text when remembering inside jokes. You carry the people you love in your heart.

11) You're a wonderful pen-pal and getting mail from you is such a happy feeling.

10) Your eyes

9) Your laugh

8) Your kiss

7) Your heart

6) Your love
5) Your hopes
4) Your girlfriend (she's really something.)
3) The adventures we've shared together.
2) The adventures waiting in the wings. (wings! black swan!)
1) That you gave me a chance to love you.
Spending my Boston years with you is pretty much the best thing to ever happen to me.

You're my best friend, Mer. Happy birthday!